An Innocent Man?

Republicans are so concerned about Trump’s political ego and their proximity to his putative power that they are willing to toss the rule of law into a ditch flowing with their lickspittle, and further Trump’s destruction of U.S. democratic institutions.

An Innocent Man?
(Press Pool, Getty Images)

“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it” - Saint Augustine

If Donald Trump is a “very innocent man,” then I am the sheik of an OPEC nation.

His baseless degradations of his guilty verdict were expected but I was not prepared for the Republican officeholders and high-profile party surrogates to attack the American judicial system with such vigor. Their actions are irresponsible and dangerous, and if they don’t know that, they ought to. They are so concerned about Trump’s political ego and their proximity to his putative power that they are willing to toss the rule of law into a ditch flowing with their lick spittle, and further Trump’s destruction of U.S. democratic institutions. Their revenge language almost transcends fascism.

Let’s talk first about the governor of Texas, whose hypocrisies with the legal system are already many and manifest. Remember that Greg Abbott sued a homeowner, their arborist, and their insurance company when a tree blew over and made him a paraplegic during a run. Abbott managed to land tens of millions of dollars in the case, which included free lifetime health care, annual cash annuities, and regularly renewed special vehicles and drivers for handicapped persons. When, however, he got into politics, he pushed hard for tort reform, which capped jury awards against business failures and negligence to $250,000. As a Texas Supreme Court justice, he also ruled in favor of corporations over citizens, consistently.

Abbott is, nonetheless, a lawyer and a member of the Texas State Bar, and the group ought to begin disbarment proceedings against him for undermining the judicial process with his lies, which are as blatant as the lying liar he emulates.

“This was a sham show trial,” he wrote on X. “The Kangaroo Court will never stand on appeal. Americans deserve better than a sitting U.S. President weaponizing our justice system against a political opponent, all to win an election. We must FIRE Joe Biden in November.”

That word “sham” was doing a lot of work after a just trial had concluded. Neither Abbott nor any other whiners can show evidence to connect the president to the New York state jury trial. A president has no jurisdiction over state courts or federal, and there is no linkage between the jurors or the judge to Mr. Biden. There are only unfounded accusations that place the rule of law in peril because there are MAGA members who believe the lies. If any lawyer had made such claims about a ruling Abbott wrote while he was sitting on this state’s high court, he would have moved immediately to seek their disbarment. His decisions and opinions almost uniformly favored corporations in cases involving product liability, medical malpractice, and any issue consumer related.

None of the allegations made by Trump sycophants are supportable, or even logical. The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, who has said god has spoken to him about being a modern Moses, indicated he thinks the “Supreme Court should step in, obviously, this is totally unprecedented. I think that the Justices on the court, I know many of them personally, I think they are deeply concerned about that, as we are. So I think they'll set this straight.”

The idea that personal relationships might somehow influence legal outcomes is what’s unprecedented, and for a House Speaker to imply that matters to a jury’s findings, well, it is vile. “Hey, Donnie. I know the black robe folks well. Lemme see what I can do.” What he knows is that the high court has no jurisdiction over state courts, unless some constitutional right was contravened, and such a case has been made throughout the state appeals process. Trump was granted all the rights of any citizen before a jury of his peers. Even his lawyer has said on TV, though, that they will likely take it to the Supreme Court. They cannot; appeals will run through state appellate processes.

The heaping-est helping of hilarity, though, goes to Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who said, “If the justice system can do this to a former president, it can do it to anyone in America. That should frighten every American. New York and Biden have turned our country into a third-world-styled justice system that goes after political opponents like you see in Russia or North Korea.” Patrick, though, corrupted and controlled the outcome of an impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The Lt. Gov. runs the Texas State Senate the way Putin manages the Kremlin. He accepted a $3 million dollar donation from Paxton’s largest backers prior to the proceedings and then controlled what witnesses were to be called, helping to acquit Paxton. Of course, he’s not wrong that the justice system can do to any American what it did to Trump because what it did was subject him to a jury of his peers and proof of evidence regarding charges leveled. Danny P also abrogated the judicial process with Paxton’s impeachment in the Texas Senate by threatening to sequester senators in the capital if they did not quickly return a verdict, and it was clear what decision he expected.

Maybe I gave out the award for hilarity a bit too capriciously. Paxton was impeached and convicted in the Texas House but acquitted in the Senate in a truly sham process that kept his mistress from testifying but allowed her former employer, a state senator, to vote on the AG’s guilt. The FBI is still investigating Paxton in a whistleblower case that involved what appear to be kickbacks to him and privileges for Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who gave Paxton’s extra lady a job. Paul was indicted for lying to banks to get $172 million in loans. Anyone who tracked the Senate impeachment, though, knew the fix was in and Paxton was not going to be convicted so his expertise on what comprises a “sham” must be an accepted part of our political calculus regarding reactions to Trump’s conviction.

“From the beginning of this sham trial, I stood by President Trump, and my support for him is stronger than ever,” he posted on X. “As Attorney General of Texas, I will unleash every tool at my disposal to fight this blatant corruption and political persecution spewing from New York and the Biden administration.”

None of the GOP herd of lawyers care that they are insulting twelve jurors, doing their civic duty, and, in this case, probably at great risk. Social media MAGAts are calling for doxxing of jurors and the prosecutor and judge are reportedly already recipients of death threats. Each of the GOP’s condemnations of the trial as rigged and the judge and prosecutor as corrupt are clear violations of the Professional Rules of Conduct established by most state bars. Abbott is too busy putting a spit shine on Trump’s shoes and his ass to tend to this state’s real challenges. We have a million uninsured children and rank 45th in health care with a ranking of 41st in per-pupil education spending, which is not stopping him from a legislative effort to send taxpayer money to private Christian schools.

The theme of GOP outrage seems to be, “If they can use the courts to do this to President T, they can do it to you.” Isn’t that what Trump and Bush did with the Supreme Court? Impanel it with extremist conservatives who use their power to contravene existing law? If that court can do to women what it has done with the Dobbs ruling, imagine what they can do to you. If that court can empower corporations over voters like it did with Citizens United, imagine what it can do to you. Aren’t those more succinct questions to be asked than making up groundless fears that Biden is pulling strings and weaponizing the Department of Justice? The legal system was already politically weaponized with Trump’s appointments to the high court, and, in the process of making political rulings, the Supreme Court has lost most of its legitimacy and has become a vestigial organ of American democracy. It is also important to point out that when there are calls to end the death penalty because of flawed evidence or false testimony leading to convictions, the radical right screams that we must trust the judicial processes.

Trump is already polishing up the fascist tools he plans to take into the White House. In a direct mail piece many people have posted on Reddit, his primary campaign appeared to be using threats and intimidation. The language on the piece below reminds the recipient their “voting record is public, your neighbors are watching, and will know if you miss this critical runoff election.” I am unamused by the line that says, “We will notify President Trump if you don’t vote. You can’t afford to have that on your record.” Even better, the GOP Gestapo ends with the message, “We will contact you after the election to make sure you voted.” Too many voters will fall for this kind of crap and be frightened into voting for Trump and his sheeple.

They are, most likely, already measuring for new drapes in the Western Kremlin.

James Moore is a New York Times bestselling author, political analyst, and business communications consultant who has been writing and reporting on Texas politics since 1975. He can be reached at